As we head into the Los Angeles Lakers’ third game on Sunday night against the Charlotte Hornets, the team is still without their third-year forward, Kyle Kuzma.
Kuzma is continuing to rehab from a left foot/ankle injury that he sustained in August while with Team USA. At the time, it was suspected that he was being held out of the rest of Team USA’s activities to err on the side of caution with the Lakers’ season right around the corner. That was eventually proven to be wrong, as the Lakers announced towards the end of September that he’d be out until at least mid-October. It’s October 27th, with Kyle Kuzma still slowly progressing to his first game of the season with 5-on-5 practices still on the checklist.
Kyle Kuzma is expected to continue to ramp things up as he gets closer to returning, and has progressed to live 4-on-4 work (halfcourt), and also participated in shootaround today. Next hurdle would typically be fullcourt 5-on-5.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 26, 2019
Today, Kuzma spoke to the media for the first time since the Lakers’ media day. In true Kuzma fashion, he wasn’t short on confidence.
Kyle Kuzma just talked to reporters for the first time since media day. “What this team needs is exactly what I worked on this summer. Gonna surprise a lot of people,” he said. Worked on being more of an on-ball playmaker, something he hasn’t been asked to do since high school
— Bill Oram (@billoram) October 27, 2019
Much has been made this summer about Kuzma’s progression and how he was making big strides in the offseason. In his second year, Kuzma regressed a little as a shooter although he seemed to have made slight improvements to his passing and defense, two areas where Kuzma was severely lacking during his rookie year.
Kuzma definitely isn’t wrong in saying that the Lakers could use what he’s worked on this summer. Danny Green is pretty obviously the third-best offensive player on the Lakers at the moment, but even Green isn’t much of a playmaker as he is an elite 3-and-D specialist. The Lakers need a playmaker on the perimeter as Anthony Davis has been doing most of his damage in the post and LeBron James can’t play all 48 minutes.
Shhh. Don’t tell everyone 🤫 https://t.co/eihTLdDswi
— kuz (@kylekuzma) October 24, 2019
Will Kyle Kuzma be able to fulfill the team’s needs? He certainly thinks so, but offseason hype doesn’t always necessarily translate to on-court results. We’ll see how Kuzma looks once he returns, which seems to be happening sooner rather than later.